The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of more than 35,000 general dentists dedicated to providing tools to help people of all ages to care for their teeth and other aspects of oral care.
"Oral health means more than just an attractive smile," says AGD spokesperson Raymond Martin, DDS, MAGD. "Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life. And, in many cases, the condition of the mouth mirrors the condition of the body as a whole."
Atlanta dentist Dr Peter V Vanstrom agrees and says that gums and teeth can predict serious health problems.
"In many cases it is a dentist who is the first to identify early warning signs of serious health issues due to what they find during routine exams," says Vanstrom. Dentists not only can identify serious conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke, but can help prevent them as well.
The AGD has compiled these easy-to-keep oral health tips that you can work into your everyday routine:
Brush twice a day
Brush your teeth for at least two to three minutes twice daily.
To make sure you're brushing long enough, simply brush for the entire length of a song on your radio or MP3 player.
Guide to brushing: 3 Essential steps >>
Floss once a day
Floss for two or three minutes at least once every day. It's the single most important factor in preventing gum disease, which affects more than 50 percent of adults.
Don't skip flossing because it irritates your gum. The more often you floss, the stronger your gums will become.
What your gums are telling you >>
Get a new toothbrush
Change your toothbrush (or toothbrush head if using an electric toothbrush) before the bristles become frayed and splayed, or every three to four months.
Old toothbrushes are ineffective and may harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections, gingivitis and gum disease.
5 Things your dentist isn't telling you >>
Stop drinking soda
Avoid carbonated beverages which cause enamel erosion and cavities.
Replace soda with water, milk, tea or coffee.
4 Healthy alternatives to diet soda >>
Use a straw
Cut back on sugary drinks to minimize the risk of developing cavities.
Drink your morning juice through a straw to minimize the amount of time that the sugars are in contact with your teeth.
5 Worst foods for your teeth >>
Chew sugarless gum
Chewing sugarless gum after meals and snacks helps cleanse your mouth. The gum prevents bacteria from attaching to your teeth to form cavities, and it increases your saliva production to reduce bad breath.
Look for gum that contains xylitol.
Read more from the AGD at KnowYourTeeth.com >>
More dental health tips